Proverbs 24:23

These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.


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Here is wisdom – clearly specified. Wise persons – noble men and women – know and practice this rule. Solomon wrote down a rule of wisdom to make you great in the sight of God and men. Will you consider it, comprehend it, and apply it in your life? Character and conduct consistent with this rule will honor and promote you among your peers.

When judging a matter, do not consider who is involved. Love for friends or hatred or fear of enemies must be ignored. Sympathy for the poor or the rich must be excluded. This is a holy rule of God’s justice system, so that pure equity and justness will prevail, and the Bible repeats the warning over and over, for it applies to both God and men (Pr 18:5; 28:21; Lev 19:15; Deut 1:17; 16:19; II Chr 19:7; Ps 82:2-4; Jas 2:1-10; I Pet 1:17).

Wise men will not consider who is involved when judging, no matter how dear the relationship or severe the temptation. They will not protect or vindicate a wicked person, no matter who he is; they will punish him. God and men love such a faithful man. They will curse the man who compromises justice and excuses or protects offenders.

Solomon taught wisdom to his son the prince (Pr 24:21), and he gave him a rule here that wise men practice. They will be scrupulously fair in judging, without showing partiality or respect due to relationship, status, or the person involved. Most men tend to compromise for friends or bend justice to obtain possible favors, so the rule is important.

The proverb applies first to civil judgment. Citizens should strictly obey the king and reject thoughts of rebellion (Pr 24:21-22). But here Solomon added the duty of kings and magistrates to judge them fairly, for God has put moral limitations on civil rulers. But the wise rule also applies to all matters of judgment, from the home to the office and church.

The foolish error is to protect evildoers rather than reprove them. The consequences and effects of good or bad civil judgment are significant (Pr 24:24-25). A man exonerating the wicked will be cursed and abhorred, even by whole nations; but a man reproving the wicked will be the delight of men and receive the blessing of God. Here is a commandment with promised rewards, so you should pay close attention and do it.

Due to man’s sinfulness and the moral degeneration of the race, there is less and less righteous judgment on earth. Civil rulers may judge by sentiment, to protect cronies, to punish the prosperous, to implement policy or redistribute wealth, to experiment socially, to assist elections, etc. Do not be surprised or frustrated! God has provided an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself more easily and by a greater margin for His reward.

Reader, you must be perfectly just in all dealings. The Bible clearly defines justice, which rejects compromise for affection, honor, sentimentality, or tradition in judgment. God’s truth and wisdom must be applied equally in all cases. Here is wisdom, for it is fools who allow fear, hate, love, respect, or desire toward persons to cloud and distort judgment. Weak character is revealed when a person chooses sentiment over justice and truth.

Parent, are you just in judging your children? Are foolish and wicked children rebuked or punished? Or do you protect sinners in the family? Two things will happen – your family will despise you for your compromise, and God will judge you. Your high goal must be perfect fairness to earn the delight of your family and the blessing of God. If you let sentimentality cloud your judgment, you are undermining your future and your family’s.

Employer or manager, are you known at the office for total fairness in all your dealings? Can all men count on your justice to be fully impartial and equitable? Paul would say, “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven” (Col 4:1). Here is a clear job duty from heaven for you to obey. If subordinates will gladly submit to your opinion in controversies, you are on your way up.

Pastor, are you clear of all partiality in your office? Paul warned, “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (I Tim 2:21). Do you apply the whole counsel of God equally to all members without discrimination? Do you rebuke those closest to you publicly and privately with equal strictness to other members?

Christian, are you totally righteous in your opinions and judgments of others? Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Do you hate some sins and sinners more than others? Does God have the same value system, or have you made up your own? Fairly judge every man by God’s standards alone. And let your reputation be known by all men to be just and honest without exception.

Authority and judgment must be exercised as to the Lord, for He is the Judge of all. His will regarding equity and righteousness has been revealed clearly in the Bible. It is not the lack of understanding that causes most human compromise, but rather unwillingness to stand firmly on Scripture alone (Ps 119:128). The influence of family and friends and sympathy for the poor or the rich corrupt the righteous thinking of most.

What a blessing to have the God of the Bible as the heavenly Judge! He is faithful and just to forgive confessed sins (I Jn 1:9). His Son is the only faithful and true witness (Rev 3:14); His character and judgment are so perfectly righteous that He is named Faithful and True (Rev 19:11). Dear reader, you may put your trust in Him. Expose yourself completely to Him today in humble confession and repentance. He will be gracious, for an infinite price has already been paid, which He shall never forget or minimize.

Because there is no respect of persons with God (Rom 2:11), let every sinner dread the day of His coming. You may impress others, but you will not impress or move Him. He shall come with His mighty angels in vengeance and flaming fire to destroy all who disobey Him (II Thess 1:7-9). This is the sober and terrible message Paul laid on the best Greek philosophers in Athens (Acts 17:30-31). You will receive the full punishment for your sins, even everlasting destruction from His presence. Amen.